Saturday, March 13, 2010
Why I Didn't One-Click Today
One-click. It's a way of life.
The other day a student announced his intention to buy A. S. Byatt's The Children's Book on his Kindle. We were floored. Was that thing a Kindle? No, it was an iPhone. It was going to be quite a fast one-click: not free postage but immediate transfer. "Start reading in less than a minute," he says.
"Traitor!" another student called, shorthand for concern about the survival of independent bookstores.
Some of us don't recognize e-reader devices when we see them. I have a Sony Reader, but it doesn't go out in public. A Kindle was pointed out to me in a coffeehouse once. Those things are ticking bombs: allowing you to shop AWAY from your computer, for God's sake.
That doesn't mean I'm not a fanatical online browser, though. The one-click--which I'm quite fond of--is the online shopper's bliss or Achilles' heel. It can be a heady feeling to find a book you want and then immediately click on it and buy it. If you're a regular at Amazon, you may find yourself not just one-clicking till you hit the $25 mark that wins you free shipping, but paying an extra $75 a year to get free two-day shipping. Now I'm not sure how this $75-a-year thing works, but if you buy hundreds of books or spend $750 a year (guessing), it probably evens out.
I didn't one-click on any novels today, AND I'M SO PROUD. I've been reading a Golden Age Detective novel, and the online bookstores haven't found out yet, so they haven't been pushing Christie, Sayers, and the rest. I kind of feel relieved.
Abebooks, Alibris, and Amazon are seductive. They not only invite you to one-click, but they amuse you with recommendations that are sometimes apt and sometimes way off-base. It's a positive land of enchantment up there. You would never want a bookstore clerk to be as in-your face as the recommendation icons on the websites. Buy Marcel Theroux's Far North and suddenly Wolf Hall, Lark & Termite, and Let the Great World Spin appear on the screen. These books have all been nominated for or won awards. It's a clever system, but sometimes it can go astray. Buy a vampire book and every vampire book ever published shows up on the screen. Four Twilight books later, it's Sookie Stackhouse and I Am Legend.
Posted by Frisbee at 6:54 PM